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Ayton impresses again, Bahamas rally from early 18-point hole to stun Argentina, 101-89

Four Bahamians score 20-plus, including Ayton with 22 and Gordon with 24.


Coming from a 22-point, 10-rebound outing in his first game with the Bahamas National Team, we all knew things were going to be tougher for Phoenix Suns big man Deandre Ayton going from Cuba to Argentina as their opponent. Only here’s the thing: he was even better in the second game.

As has been the case in many Ayton games we’ve seen, it started with his team trying to involve him early on offense. DA was up to the challenge, scoring 10 points (4-7 FG) in the first quarter, including eight of the Bahamas’ first 13.

Notably, Ayton played all 10 minutes in the opening frame, which is the type of thing we’re not used to, but we may want to be now that his slimmer frame might be able to handle that kind of run.

His physical abilities never seemed to falter by my estimation, looking quite springy down the stretch, but the mental mistakes seemed to pile up. Sparking memories of old, Ayton fell asleep defensively both in transition and in pick-and-roll during this stretch.

Bahamas finished the quarter down 25-37 after being down as much as 18 earlier; Argentina is much more familiar with each other, featuring players like Facu Campazzo and Carlos Delfino. The Argentinians were white-hot from deep, shooting 5-11 (45.5%) from three over the first 10 minutes.

As Ayton continued to settle in on both ends, so did the Bahamas, steadying the ship significantly to start the second. He got busy blocking shots and hitting patented shots Suns’ fans are familiar with like his turnaround hook shot or jab step jumper. Ayton’s hustle started to shine after lacking in the long first quarter, and he was able to manufacture points out of it for both himself and others.

Eric Gordon’s poster dunk to close the half put the Bahamas up by two going into the break after both Suns cleared 15 points in the first half. Somehow, they were able to weather the storm and go into the second half with a clean slate.

Ayton’s defense really started to come alive in the third as if it hadn’t before, disrupting countless rim attempts and even starting to deter Argentina from even trying to get into the paint by the middle of the third (I’ll have more video up on this part later).

By the time the fourth came around, Ayton was in the mood to put this thing away, although it may have been a little premature given how the fourth unfolded. Just as Argentina had sliced into the deficit and cut it to 10, Ayton hit a face-up jumper and shushed the local Argentinian faithful for good measure.

Shortly after during a timeout at the 4:44 mark, Ayton was seen in the huddle barking at his teammates, trying to insure the Bahamas didn’t let the historic win slip away, shouting things like “They tired as f***” and “Keep moving!” Boy, did things get weird from there.

Seconds later while trying to maintain what was down to a six-point lead, Ayton turned it over after Campazzo picked his pocket, and Ayton grabbed Campazzo out of frustration, earning himself an unsportsmanlike foul call. Campazzo proceeded to miss both of his free throws, but Ayton kept the possession alive for Argentina with another foul under the basket. Argentina came up empty still, which ended as the nail in the coffin in their rally.

In the final minutes, Ayton got a soft putback to go, and Delfino was seen kicking (and breaking) a video ad board out of frustration, stunned by what the Bahamas were able to accomplish in their 101-89 win, clinching an appearance in Saturday’s semifinal.

Final statlines for the Phoenix Bahamians:

  • Ayton: 22 points (11-16 FG), 15 rebounds, two steals, and three blocks in nearly 34 minutes
  • Gordon: 24 points (6-12 FG, 11-12 FT), three assists, and two steals in nearly 33 minutes

Overall takeaway with Ayton from this game for me is that he was the most consistent piece for the Bahamas from tip to final buzzer, and that’s rarely something you can say about him in an individual game.

The defense getting better as each minute went along really stood out to me, and my imagination is starting to run wild with Frank Vogel at the helm of the next Suns season. Offensively, it looked less “new” than the tournament opener against Cuba looked, but he was effective and efficient in what he was doing.

With the Bahamas starting 2-0 (and boasting a +53 point differential), they’ve already punched a ticket to semifinal day on Saturday ahead of a possible rematch with Argentina in the final on Sunday. The tip time and matchup are both currently TBD, but I’ll update this exact sentence with that information when it becomes available.

P.S. I’m really starting to eye Travis Munnings, Bahama wing who had 20 points (8-8 FG, 3-3 3P) and two steals, as a wish-list candidate for Suns exhibit-10 deals ahead of training camp. The chemistry he’s building with Ayton and Gordon really counts when it comes to that for me.

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